Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: harvey weinstein

Zero Tolerance Policy for Creeps, Harassers, Predators, and Rapists

When the Harvey Weinstein story broke, I heard whispers about Louis CK that were vague in nature. That he was ‘one of them’. That he had done things to female comics. Tig Notaro, on of my favorite comics in the world, distanced herself from him, saying he needed to deal with the accusations. When I finally found out what they were, my stomach sank. Before I get into the actual allegations, let me tell you, five years ago, I would have thought, “Oh no. Not Louis CK. Please don’t let it be true.” He was one of my favorite comics. I laughed uproariously at his stories, even when they made me uncomfortable as well. Uncomfortable because they were too close to the truth. I quoted him all the time because I could always find the relevant Louis CK story. I’ve seen almost all his specials, and I thought he was hilarious. Yes, he was a sad sack, but he mined it for his comedy. Five years ago, I would have had a hard time accepting that he had done what he was accused of. I would have accepted it, of course, but it would have been a struggle.

This time, however, when I read about it, my immediate response was, “That sucks. He’s off the list.” I didn’t talk about it because I needed to process it, but I believed that he did exactly what he was accused of doing. Specifically, that he asked lesser-known female comics/actresses if he could undress and masturbate in front of them because it’s such a fucking pathetic thing to do. I saw a woman tweeting about it once the story broke, and a man wrote back that it’s terrible, but there has to be a line between abuse and harassment, and where’s that line? It was a bad time to ask that question, and it was directed at the wrong person, but the question itself is not terrible. It was asked by a huge Louis CK fan who was struggling with the stories and didn’t know what to do with them.

The question was genuine, and it’s not terrible, but it’s irrelevant in the court of common opinion. Or rather, in the court of MY opinion. Yes, it may not be objectively as *bad* as what Harvey Weinstein did, but I don’t give a shit. I’m tired of powerful men preying on vulnerable people (mostly women, but there are stories of men being abused, too. More and more so, sadly), and right now, I have a zero tolerance policy. If I hear of a celebrity/politician being a sexual predator, he is off the list. Conservatives are trying to ‘but what about’ with Roy Moore, and Ann Coulter, bless her heart, tweeted that JFK was 45 when he had an extra-marital affair with a 19-year-old. She addressed the tweet to ‘Hey Dems!’ like she had a gotcha moment. The response was swift and mocking, ranging from, “Well! I’m not voting for JFK, either, then” to my own, “She does know JFK is dead, right? Bless her heart.”

The thing, though, is that Dems aren’t defending Weinstein’s behavior. In general, Democrats are much harsher on predators within  our midst than are Republicans. Some Republicans are frantically defending a thirty-five year old man’s right to prey on teenage girls as young as 14, which is disgusting, but not surprising. There are a bunch of politicos (white dudes. They’re mostly white dudes) who have expressed their credulity that sexually molesting a 14-year-old isn’t an automatic disqualifier. They say they can’t believe it, and they believe it’s because of this president. I want to tell them not to be so fucking naive. Men have gotten away with sexually assaulting teenage girls since the beginning of the time, and not only have they gotten away with it, it’s been excused, justified, or even approved of in some cases.

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Burn It All to the Ground

I was listening to NPR on the way home from the grocery store, and they were talking about how the Weinstein Co. is negotiating to receive equity from a private donor in order to continue. The CEO of the equity company (who was some kind of adviser to this president during his campaign. MASSIVE side eye for that) said something like he wanted to ensure that the quality of independent film-making continues.

The whole thing rubbed me the wrong way, and I’ll tell you why. Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predatory behavior did not exist in a vacuum. He’s been doing this since at least the eighties, which is thirty years. There is a harrowing account of an actress trying to leave the situation, asking the assistant if her car was there, only to be told no and to go into Harvey’s room. Think about that. It was such common knowledge, the assistant was in on it*. There is no way in hell the assistant knew and Bob (the brother) Weinstein and/or the members of the board didn’t. They might not have had concrete proof, but they knew. They heard the rumors. They saw the way he acted. They chose not to know so they wouldn’t have to do anything about it.

I don’t want Weinstein Co. to continue and flourish. I want it to be burned to the ground. It fostered the atmosphere in which Weinstein was able to traumatize countless women with no consequence except writing a check now and again. The numbers may seem significant, but for a man like Weinstein, writing a check for a hundred thou was nothing. He probably shit away more than that on a regular basis. It’s much easier for him to write a check than to have to go through sexual harassment/sexual assault trial, and it doesn’t put his reputation at risk, either. Sure, it was an open secret he was a predator, but that didn’t cost him anything in Hollywood. He was still a powerful man–it’s his victims and potential victims who had to adjust their behavior. Angelina Jolie said she warned others about him. Jessica Chastain said she was warned about him. Yet, not one single thing  was done TO him.

Side note: Can we please stop with the ‘it hasn’t been proven in court’ derailments that always crop up when cases like this happen? Twitter is not The Law, and it’s perfectly fine to judge him in the court of public opinion. I am more than comfortable saying that Harvey Weinstein is a serial predator, and I don’t need a court to confirm the stories I’ve been reading about him. Of course he deserves his day in court (if it even comes to that, which I’m quite cynical about), but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend I haven’t already made up my mind.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Believing Your Own Hype

This weekend, the news that movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, is a serial sexual harasser broke with more disturbing details being revealed on a seemingly minute-by-minute basis. As I was reading an article about it, I was caught by surprise when I read that he had hired Lisa Bloom as one of his attorneys. Lisa Bloom is a lawyer who rose to Twitter fame roughly around the time of the start of the BLM because of her wokeness* on the issue. I saw her being constantly retweeted, checked out her tweets, and followed her. She was a champion of feminist causes, including standing up for victims of sexual abuse, and I was ready to roar alongside her.

Fast-forward several months, and I noticed that she was beginning to believe her own hype. I don’t know how to explain it clearly, but the tone of her tweets changed. They became more about her and less about the people/causes she was championing. It’s hard to give a quantitative response as to how bad it was, but it was enough to cause me to unfollow. I stopped paying attention to her, but I still saw her RT’ed on occasion. In my mind, she was a feminist lawyer who cared passionately about racial discrimination and victims of sexual abuse. I was glad she was out there fighting the good fight, even if I no longer wanted to read about her exploits on Twitter.

You can imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I read that Weinstein had retained her. I was disappointed because it gave him a shield for his behavior, but I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to think that maybe she actually believed he could learn and change, but statements about him being a dinosaur from a different age and minimizing his behavior (saying he didn’t know how his behavior could be seen as inappropriate if not intimidating) really disappointed me. In addition, her refusal to call it sexual harassment and calling some of the women liars…yeah, I wasn’t pleased at all. In addition, everything Weinstein said in his statement screamed spin control to me. Saying he grew up in an era when it was Just The Way Things Are? Check. (I saw a tweet pointing out that this dinosaur was hep enough to name-check Jay-Z, which is also a good point.) Saying he knows he has to do better? Check. Tossing in the bit about the money he’s giving to women in film? Check, check, check. Pandering to his base (bigwig Dems with deep pockets) by saying he’s going after the NRA? Check. The one part that was weird and really offensive to me was the bit about him trying to change this for the last ten years and not being able to. If that’s the case, it makes it worse. He was aware that he had a problem but simply couldn’t help assaulting young, vulnerable women around him? He should be locked up then until he can keep his grubby paws to himself.

I didn’t see real remorse on his part, but this post really isn’t about him. I will probably do that post in the near future, outlining what is wrong with a society that codifies this kind of behavior in powerful men–he’s been doing this for decades without any serious ramification–but that’s not what this post is about. Quick side note: Republicans need to STFU about this. They sanctioned Roger Ailes and look at who they elected president. Weinstein is scum, but at least many Democrats are coming out and saying this. They need to clean their own goddamn house first before crowing over this.

Back to my point, and I do have one.

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